VAWA (Violence Against Women Act)
To apply for a Green Card as a spouse, child, or parent of an abuser, you need to qualify under one of the following categories:
- SPOUSE: You can make a request for yourself if you are an abused spouse and are married to a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident.
- PARENT: You can make a request for yourself if you’re the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse OR if you’re the parent of a U.S. Citizen child who has abused you.
- CHILD: You can make a request for yourself if you are a child (under 21 years) abused by your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parent.
Although VAWA stands for “Violence Against Women Act”, can both men and women qualify?
Yes. A spouse can be a man or woman, a parent can be a mother or father, and a child can be any child under age 21.
What are the general requirements to qualify as an abused spouse, child or parent (VAWA)?
The general requirements are as follows:
- You must be legally married with, the parent of, or the child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
- You must live in the United States.
- You must have lived in the United States with a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident abuser.
- You must have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
- You must be a person of good moral character.
- You must have entered the marriage/relationship in good faith and not simply for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
Can I get a work permit by filing for VAWA?
Yes. When you file the VAWA Petition, you typically can apply for a work permit at the same time. Assuming that the VAWA Petition is approved, you will be issued a work permit while you are waiting for your Legal Permanent Resident status to be granted.
If I qualify as an abused spouse, do I have to stay married to the abuser?
No. As long as it has not been more than two years since the divorce, you can qualify to file for VAWA.
If I think I qualify for VAWA, what should I do?
If you believe you qualify for this program, you should meet with a competent immigration attorney to discuss the application, the procedure, potential pitfalls, and the ultimate benefits of applying for VAWA.
Eamonn P.S. Roach is an attorney of the firm Roach & Bishop, LLP in Pasco, Washington, who practices immigration law. This information does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that this information does not apply to you. Each case depends on specific facts. If you have questions regarding the immigration laws that you would like answered in this column, please send them to: Eamonn P.S. Roach, 9221 Sandifur Pkwy, Suite C., Pasco, WA 99301, phone: (509) 547-7587, fax: (509) 547-7745; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.